Several Philadelphia-area chefs, restaurants are James Beard Awards semifinalists

Hadas Kuznits
February 26, 2020 - 5:29 pm
Kalaya restaurant in Philadelphia.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Semifinalist nominations for the James Beard Awards in May were announced Wednesday morning, and several of the nominees were from the Philadelphia area. 

One of the most notable awards is Best New Restaurant, and Kalaya, a Thai restaurant in the Italian Market, was the only Philadelphia restaurant in that category. 

Owner Nok Suntaranon got the news from a friend on the phone.

"And then I told my husband like, 'I did it! I did it.' And I was so emotional," Suntaranon said. 

Nok Suntaranon.
Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

Tova Du Plessis was recognized under Outstanding Baker in her fourth consecutive nomination.

"What it does is that it tells people that they can't ignore me, especially when it comes to finances like backers, investors, developers, landlords, and it helps me to secure a better deal for my business because we need to really grow to make this business sustainable," she said.

Du Plessis's Essen Bakery is located not too far from Kalaya. 

"I do want to say that Kalaya is one of my favorite restaurants now.  I went there once and the food was phenomenal. I love that restaurant so I'm so happy. She's brand new so I'm so happy to see them being recognized," she added. 

Tova Du Plessis.
Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

Also nominated was Marc Vetri for Outstanding Chef. 

Three Philadelphia chefs — Cristina Martinez, Nick Elmi and Rich Landau as well as Joey Baldino of Collingswood and Taylor Mason of Lancaster —were recognized under Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. 

Nominees will be narrowed down next month, with the big awards taking place in May.